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What's My Communication Style Fourth Edition

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The HRDQ Style Suite of assessments, courses, and learning tools provide personal and team development learning experiences that bring about meaningful improvements in your organization. Based upon the work of William M. Marston, and often referred to as DISC, the HRDQ Style Model provides a simple and powerful model that learners can apply to how they communicate, lead others, manage time, learn, coach and sell. With the Style Suite you can effect a profound impact on the lives of individuals and teams in your organization.

Communication skills are critical if your organization is going to thrive, particularly during challenging times.  You can dramatically improve communication skills by building a better understanding of personal styles and their effects on others. What's My Communication Style is a proven process that identifies an individual's dominant communication style and the communication behaviors that distinguish it, then helps individuals learn to flex their style with colleagues.

The What's My Communication Style Fourth Edition course includes an online assessment, online self-study training course, and virtual or classroom training course. A paper version of the assessment is also available.


Introducing What’s My Communication Style

What's My Communication Style provides employees at all levels insight into their everyday communication with others. This assessment is appropriate for anyone who wants or needs to discover more about themselves and their communication preferences. Individuals identify their preference for one of four communication styles using a 24-item assessment. The instructor-led program then helps participants understand the various forms of communication and learn how to "flex" their own personal style to improve communication.

Effective communication is the lifeblood of any organization. It goes without saying that excellent communication is important in the workplace. Team members need to work together and communicate effectively in order to meet goals and provide value to the organization.

Yet, workplace conflict remains a constant obstacle. More often than not, a clash in personality is to blame. This is because it directly impacts the way we share and interpret messages. Without an awareness of communication style, we’re susceptible to misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

Based upon the work of William M. Marston, What's My Communication Style profoundly improves one's interactions and relationships with others. Learners take the assessment (either online or in print) through which they identify their preference for one of four communication styles. Learners then review a detailed interpretation of results where they explore their style's inherent traits, strengths, and opportunities for growth. With the virtual or onsite instructor-led program, or self-paced online learning course, learners discover how to adapt behavioral patterns in order to work more collaboratively with others. If you are familiar with the DISC-based assessments, you will find What's My Communication Style is a more practical and easy-to-facilitate alternative. QuickStart Train-the-Trainer is available to help you successfully launch your style training. Certification is not required.

What's My Communication Style starts with a self-assessment  that takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. Individuals are presented with 24 different statements and are asked to select the response that best represents the way they communicate. There are four response options to each statement, and each response measures one of the four personal communication styles: direct, spirited, considerate, and systematic. Learners are then presented with a profile, detailing their total score for each style.

The majority of individuals will show a clear preference for one of the communication styles; this is identified as their dominant style. The assessment is followed by an approximately four-hour onsite training program where participants reflect on their results through group discussion and application activities and a develop an action plan for using their newfound knowledge to improve their communication skills post-workshop. The What's My Communication Style Facilitator Guide also provides an alternative workshop outline that reduces What's My Communication Style into a 1.5-hour onsite training program.

What's My Communication Style is appropriate for use with all organizational levels from front line staff to senior management. The assessment can be used as a standalone development tool, or it can be used with the included training program on communication skills. This assessment is an effective tool for identifying others’ communication preferences and learning how to flex your own style in order to improve collaboration. It can be useful for training in a variety of soft skill training topics, including:

  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Team building
  • Supervisory skills
  • Conflict resolution

Start training your learners with personality style and a focus on communication – the most critical people skill.

Theory Background

Research shows that each of us develops a preference for communicating in a certain manner, commonly referred to as a communication style. Understanding communication style is an important first step in learning how to communicate effectively with others. What’s My Communication Style provides insight into our everyday communication with others.

This assessment is appropriate for individuals at any organizational level who want to discover more about themselves and their communication preferences, including their communication style’s inherent strengths and trouble spots.

Individuals identify their preference for one of four communication styles using a 24-item assessment. The instructor-led program then helps participants understand the various forms of communication and learn how to “flex” their own personality style to improve communication.

Based on the well-researched personality theories of psychologists Carl Jung, William Moulton Marston, and others, What’s My Communication Style defines communication style with four terms: Direct, Spirited, Considerate, and Systematic. The simplicity of the model makes it easy for trainers to facilitate and memorable for individuals. The result is a tool that boosts individuals’ ability to improve the effectiveness of their communication in any situation.

Understanding Personality Style

What makes people act as they do? Why does one person jump at the chance to do a public presentation, while another person avoids it? Why does one person focus on details, while another focuses on general impressions? What drives our actions has been a constant topic of debate. In the past, researchers were clearly divided into two camps: those who believed that personality style determined behavior and those who believed that the situation determined behavior. Those on the style side of the debate argued that personality traits are stable, consistent predispositions to act in a certain way (Wheeless & Lashbrook, 1987). For example, if you are outgoing, you will probably enjoy and excel in public speaking situations. Those on the situation side of the debate argued that people are inconsistent. For example, a person might be open and intimate with friends but closed and professional at work. Situational theorists believed that predictions of behavior are more accurate if based on the situation rather than on personality (Mischel, 1996).

To a certain extent, the debate over personality style versus situation was misleading. Many early studies on the subject were conducted in laboratory settings with severe constraints. Subjects in those experiments did not choose their situations and were limited in their choice of behaviors.

Snyder and Ickes (1985) offered a synthesis of those two previous views, arguing that people’s personality styles determine the situations in which they find themselves. For example, an outgoing person would be more likely than an introverted person to choose a public speaking situation. This view suggests that personality style and situation work together in determining behavior.

Even if people have no choice in the situations they encounter, they react to any situation with a limited set of behaviors (Bem, 1983). Although people’s behavior will alter as the situation changes, their set of behaviors from which to choose is not infinite, and they will display the behaviors within a behavioral set as determined by the circumstances. For example, not everyone is capable of being analytical in situations that call for analysis, but people will choose the best behavioral adjustment from among their set of possible behaviors. This set of possible behavioral reactions is a product of their personality style.

The results of another study spanning 50 years further support this view that personality traits are stable across time but also malleable to some extent as people mature and age due to genetic and environmental influences (Hopwood et al., 2012, as cited in Damian, Spengler, Sutu & Roberts, 2018).

Although debate may continue over the degree of influence personality plays in behavior, we can conclude that it is a significant component. In particular, personality style takes over when individuals have options in both their behavior and their environment.

We define personality style as the way people act when they are able to do things their own way. Does this mean that people act the same way all the time? Certainly not. Even the most boisterous individual would not be loud and jovial at a funeral. But behavior is consistent to the point that it is predictable. For example, everyone acts friendly sometimes. However, when a person acts friendly more than the average person, others start to consider friendliness part of that person’s personality and expect friendly behavior from them most of the time.

“What makes people act as they do? Why does one jump at the chance to do a public presentation, while another person avoids it? Why does one person focus on facts, while another focuses on broad impressions?”

The Importance of Personality Style

Personality style affects our interactions with others (Hunsaker & Alessandra, 2008), and it is important in several aspects of organizational and personal life. People with different styles have different priorities and function at different paces. These differences can create problems if they remain under the surface. If Joe is slow and thorough and Jane is fast and decisive, their working relationship will be stressful unless they are aware of each other’s preferences. Knowledge of personality styles prevents misunderstandings and frustration.

Understanding personality style allows us to interpret the actions of others in a nonjudgmental way (Snavely, 1981). If we are aware of another person’s typical behaviors, we can take these behaviors into account when interpreting the other person’s actions. For example, if Fred is generally a friendly and outgoing person, the fact that he gives you an enthusiastic hello should not necessarily be interpreted as a sign of deep friendship. If, on the other hand, Fred is a private person, his enthusiastic hello might be a sign of deep friendship. The knowledge of personality style allows you to understand the behaviors of others; it enables you to accurately attach meaning to the reactions of those around you. Most importantly, you will be able to react appropriately within your own behavior set to the reactions of others and better manage the communication exchange.

Using your knowledge of personality style to understand others better begins by understanding yourself. People who understand their own style will fare better than those who proceed as if all people are the same. For example, if you are aware that you prefer logical, straightforward assignments, you should seek work in such an environment. If you thrive on working with people, you should choose a position in which you interact frequently with others.

Two Dimensions of Personality Style

The concept and basic dimensions of style date back to Carl Jung’s 1914 work (Jung, 1971). Jung was the first person to describe the traits of introversion and extraversion. Since then, many researchers have examined personality style and further developed Jung’s ideas (e.g., Marston, 1979; Merrill & Reid, 1999; Schutz, 1966). One clear finding of this research is that the number of styles is not unlimited. Each individual is unique, but there are definite categorical commonalities. In fact, research indicates two basic dimensions of personality style, which we have chosen to refer to as assertiveness and expressiveness.

    Assertiveness is the effort that a person makes to influence or control the thoughts or actions of others. People who are assertive tell others how things should be and are task oriented, active, and confident. People who are less assertive ask others how things should be and are process oriented, deliberate, and attentive.
    Expressiveness is the effort that a person makes to control their emotions when relating to others. People who are expressive display their emotions and are versatile, sociable, and demonstrative. People who are less expressive control their emotions and are focused, independent, and private. 

hrdq style model imageThe HRDQ Style Model

Personality style is determined by a person’s degree of assertiveness and expressiveness. In fact, the various combinations of the degrees of assertiveness and expressiveness result in four possible personality styles. Different names have been given to these styles by various researchers (see, e.g., Alessandra & Hunsaker, 1993; Wheeless & Lashbrook, 1987), but we have chosen to label them Direct, Spirited, Considerate, and Systematic.

These styles are the basis of the HRDQ Style Model.


Understanding Communication Style

Communication is one manifestation of personality style. The essence of communication is sending and receiving a message. While this sounds simple, frequently, the message that is intended is not the message that is received. One reason this misunderstanding occurs is that the sender and receiver have two different personality styles, meaning they share and interpret messages in two different ways. For example, the sender may intend to communicate a supportive message by saying, “I’d like to help you,” but the receiver may misinterpret the message as one of being told they are incapable. To complicate matters, communication is more than just the spoken word. There are four forms of communication: verbal, paraverbal (tone of voice and intensity), body language, and personal space.

  • VERBAL: Words themselves may be open to misunderstanding. Differences in age, experience, and background can result in different interpretations of the same statement.
  • PARAVERBAL: It’s not just the words but how people say them that affect meaning. This is called paraverbal communication and includes how quickly a person speaks and pauses, as well as voice tone and intensity. For example, trailing off or lowering your voice can be a sign/signal that it is the other party’s turn to speak in a conversation.
  • BODY LANGUAGE: The way people stand, shake hands, and maintain eye contact are all forms of body language that communicate meaning to others. Body language can communicate attentiveness, emotions, and reactions. Facial expressions are another form of body language. The cliché “it’s written all over your face” describes it perfectly: facial expressions can reveal the listener’s response to what the speaker is saying even before the listener responds in words.
    Body language is heavily influenced by communication style. Preferences for eye contact, gesturing, and touch are usually quite pronounced, and it is easier to read other people’s body language messages if you know their dominant style.
  • PERSONAL SPACE: The final form of communication is the use of personal space, which includes not only the space between you and others but also your personal appearance, your choice of decorations, and how you arrange your workspace. Interpersonal distance, or how close people are physically to one another, has been studied extensively, and researchers have outlined four zones of interpersonal distance: intimate, personal, social, and public. How close you prefer to be to others in all of these zones is a function of your communication style. Whether your work or home space is cluttered or neat, organized or disorganized, is also a function of your communication style.


Training Options for What's My Communication Style

What's My Communication Style can be delivered as an onsite learning experience or as a blended experience using the online assessment. The following are the recommended components for each experience.

Onsite Instructor-Led Training Experience

  • Online or Print Assessment
  • Print Workbook
  • Print Facilitator Guide
  • Experiential Game (StylePlay, Playing with Style, Personality Style Toolkit)
  • HRDQue Card
  • HRDQ Style Model Poster
  • Blinky Pins

Blended Instructor-Led Training Experience

  • Online Assessment
  • Online Course
  • Print Facilitator Guide
  • Print Workbook
  • HRDQue Card
  • HRDQ Style Model Poster
  • Blinky Pins

Online Learning Experience

  • Online Assessment
  • Online Course


Contact us with questions regarding flexible delivery options for What’s My Communication Style.



What's My Communication Style Components

What's My Communication Style includes everything you need to facilitate a great learning event. Need more help? Contact us for train-the-trainer and onsite facilitation options.

Online Assessment

The Online Assessment is delivered through the HRDQ Online Assessment Center. Participants receive online instructions for completing the 24 statement assessment. Scores are automatically calculated and then presented, along with interpretive information, in a personalized report that is generated upon completion of the assessment. The Online Assessment is available with and without the Online Course.

Online Course

The 30-minute, self-paced Online Course contains detailed information on the theory behind the HRDQ Style Model and serves as a reinforcement of the learning. Short quizzes spaced throughout the course ensure comprehension. The course may be used as an online-only learning experience or as part of a blended-learning approach. Upon completing the Online Assessment participants are provided access to the course. The course is web-based and displayed in a new window in the participant's browser. No unique plug-ins or downloads are required. Currently no participant tracking information for the course is available for administrators.

Onsite Print Facilitator Guide

The Facilitator Guide provides you with the tools you will need to lead a successful learning and development experience using the What’s My Communication Style assessment. It is organized into two parts. Part 1 provides information you'll need to familiarize yourself with the product. Part 2 contains detailed instructions for administering the assessment and leading the workshop. We have also provided sample copies of the Print Assessment and Workbook pages for your convenience.

The Facilitator Guide comes with 1 Style Model Wall Poster, 1 HRDQue Card and digital Facilitator Support Materials which are delivered straight to your inbox upon order completion. This includes a PowerPoint Presentation, Learning Overview, Theory Background, FAQ, Certificate of Achievement, Program Evaluation, and a sample copy of the Online Assessment Report.

Onsite Print Workbook

The Print Workbook deepens participants' understanding of the assessment results and is used during the workshop. Organized for easy follow-along, it includes background information and theories about communication, an explanation of the HRDQ Style Model, in-depth interpretive information, individual and group activities, and a personal development plan.

Onsite Print Assessment

The Print Assessment contains instructions for completing the assessment, the 24 statements participants will evaluate, a scoring form, instructions for calculating and charting scores, and general interpretative information. The Print Assessment is typically administered during the workshop; however, it can also be administered in advance as pre-work.

HRDQue Cards

An excellent takeaway for participants, each 4" x 6" HRDQue Card is a quick-reference tool that features the HRDQ Style Model, summarizes each style, and lists their characteristics.

Style Model Wall Poster

The 17" x 22" poster can be used as a quick reference and visual aid during the workshop. The reverse side features the HRDQ Experiential Learning Model. Additional copies of the poster are available for purchase, as many facilitators tell us they like to display training posters at various locations in the workplace.

Blinky Pins

These light-up buttons serve as a fun learner takeaway for your audience. Each Blinky Pin displays one of the four styles. They’re an excellent way for participants to build rapport with others, build style awareness and engage in style “talk,” and they hopefully serve as a friendly reminder that flexing one’s style is the key to effectively interacting with others.

Personality Style for Dummies

Personality style is the primary force driving human behavior. Knowing its ins and outs sheds light on just about everything employees do, from how they manage to how they work as part of a team. Your specific personality style boils down to two fundamental behaviors and four basic personality styles. Discover your team members' unique styles using Personality Style for Dummies handy reference guide.

QuickStart Train-the-Trainer

First time facilitating this product? We highly recommend the one-hour QuickStart Train-the-Trainer session, whether you are a novice trainer or a seasoned facilitator. It's an excellent way to quickly get up to speed on the product so you can step into your first-time training experience with confidence.


Order Info

What's My Communication Style Ordering Information

Instructions on what to order for suggested training options are provided below.

Instructor-Led Onsite Training Experience

To facilitate an instructor-led onsite training experience, order the following components:

  • Onsite Print Facilitator Guide.
  • Online Assessment OR Onsite Print Assessment (1 per learner).
  • Onsite Print Workbook (1 per learner).
  • HRDQue Card (1 per learner).

Online Assessment

To administer the online assessment for distance, self-study or blended learning, order the following components:

  • HRDQ Online Assessment Center account. If you do not have an account, please contact us for set up.
  • Online Assessment report credit (1 per learner). 

QuickStart Train-the-Trainer

We highly recommend this convenient coaching session if you are a first-time facilitator of this product. You'll receive personalized, one-on-one virtual coaching with a subject matter expert who will get you up to speed quickly and accurately so you can step into the onsite with confidence. Coaching sessions can be provided by phone or video call.

Self-Guided Online Learning

To administer a self-guided online learning experience, order the following components:

  • HRDQ Online Assessment Center account. If you do not have an account, please contact us for set up.
  • Online Assessment report credit with Online Learning Course (1 per learner). 


Questions? Contact us with questions regarding What's My Communication Style training design options and suggestions.


Version Notes

What’s New In What's My Communication Style version 4

Now in its 25th year, What's My Communication Style Fourth Edition delivers substantial improvements and additions while preserving the core aspects of the HRDQ Style Model.

Newly designed profile in the form of a bar chart that illustrates the degree of preference an individual has for each style. The chart also reveals where each score falls relative to a normative sample base of more than 55,000 respondents.

Comprehensive interpretation of scores and more specifically what it means in terms of one's ability to flex to each style.

Online report now includes the styles measured by each response option and an individual's selected responses to each of the 24 items.

Online Course giving you the option to deliver the course content as a self-study online learning experience.

Updated references to support the underlying research behind the model.

Reorganized and expanded Facilitator Guide that helps you to better prepare for an onsite learning experience.

More skill-development activities in the core workshop, extending the length of the workshop from 90 minutes to 4 hours.

Script to accompany each Facilitator PowerPoint slide, supporting your ease of presentation.

New Self-Assessment booklet containing instructions for completing the assessment, the 24 statements participants will evaluate, a scoring form, instructions for calculating and charting scores, and general interpretative information.

New Workbook that enriches participants learning, featuring detailed content on the four personality styles, thumbnails of the PowerPoint slides, key information from the facilitator's presentation, numerous skill-building activities, and a development-planning section to maximize learning transfer.

Poster as a visual aid and quick reference during the workshop, in the break room, or teamwork area, featuring the HRDQ Style Model on one side and the HRDQ Experiential Learning Model on the other.

HRDQue Cards for distribution to participants at the end of the workshop as a learner takeaway, featuring the HRDQ Style Model on one side and a succinct description of each of the four styles plus their characteristics on the other side.

Learning Overview to serve as a quick way to familiarize yourself with What's My Communication Style, generate interest from prospective participants, and gain buy-in from managers and other stakeholders. Contains key information about the product, including the learning outcomes, target audience, and workshop agenda.

FAQ that responds to some of the most common inquiries we’ve received about the product over the past year.